Target: Gral. Miguel Rodríguez Torres, Minister of Justice and Interior
Goal: End harassment against defense lawyer and ensure that international fair trial standards are upheld
Private Venezuelan defense lawyer Omar Ernesto Silva Martínez has been the target of harassment in relation to a case he recently took on. Sign the petition and remind authorities in Venezuela that, in accordance with international fair trial standards, lawyers must be allowed to do their jobs without hindrance or harassment.
Silva became the target of threats after he took Lorent Gómez Saleh on as a client. Gómez Saleh, a Venezuelan national, was recently expelled from Colombia due to his alleged paramilitary activity there. Almost immediately after he took the case, Silva noticed he was being followed and photographed. He identified the people watching him as “members of the intelligence services,” Amnesty International reports, and filed a complaint with the prosecutor’s office. He has also received phone calls threatening that he will be “detained for collaborating with the paramilitaries” and telling him to “take care of [him]self.”
International fair trial standards prohibit the harassment or intimidation of any lawyers involved in a trial. Every person accused of a crime has the right to legal representation of their choice, and it becomes hard to guarantee that right when counsel is being threatened and harassed in an effort to force them off the case. Interference with Omar Silva’s life is tantamount to an interference in his client’s trial and in the guidelines set up to ensure justice. Demand that authorities in Venezuela ensure that Omar Silva is protected from harassment and bring those responsible to justice.
Omar Ernesto Silva Martínez, a private defense lawyer representing Lorent Gómez Saleh, has been subject to an organized campaign of harassment and intimidation as a result of his association with his client. This harassment is a clear violation of international fair trial standards and must be put to an end immediately. I urge you to protect Omar Silva from harassment and to bring those responsible for his ordeal to justice.
Shortly after Silva took on Gómez Saleh as a client, he noticed he was being followed and photographed by people he recognized as “members of the intelligence services.” In addition to being followed, he overheard intelligence personnel inquiring as to his full name and asking if he was a member of Foro Penal Venezolano. He has received seven threatening phone calls at work from “individuals who identify themselves as government supporters,” Amnesty International reports.
Threatening acts like these are in clear violation of international fair trial standards, which allow for a defendant to be represented by a lawyer of his or her choice. Intimidating a lawyer with the intent to make him drop the case clearly violates the rights of the client as well as those of the lawyer who is being harassed. I therefore urge you to investigate the case of harassment suffered by Omar Silva and bring those responsible to justice.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Emmanuel Huybrechts via Wikimedia Commons